Sunday, May 31, 2009

Obama Disappoints on the Environment

Saw this in Politico's daily Playbook e-mail today. Very disheartening:

--L.A. Times A1, 'A quiet OK for peaks' removal: Environmentalists feel betrayed by Obama as mines are approved,' by Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten: 'With the election of President Obama, environmentalists had expected to see the end of the 'Appalachian apocalypse,' their name for exposing coal deposits by blowing the tops off whole mountains. But in recent weeks, the administration has quietly made a decision to open the way for at least two dozen more mountaintop removals. ... The issue is politically sensitive because environmentalists were an active force behind Obama's election, and the president's standing is tenuous among Democratic voters in coal states. ... Moreover, Obama needs support from local lawmakers for an energy agenda that would further regulate home-state industries, but halting mountaintop mining could eliminate jobs and put upward pressure on energy prices in a time of economic hardship. Coal advocates have solicited help from officials as high up as White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel..'

Full L.A. Times story here.


Cany said...

I am very, very disturbed by O's lack of environmental understanding, and to have Rahm say it will eliminate jobs is, well, absolutely UNTRUE.

Before we blew the tops off of mountains (putting dust, radioactivity in the air) and resulting in the dumping of this into streams and creeks, humans mined coal traditionally and job numbers were MUCH higher. Now, it is highly mechanized meaning fewer jobs and more pollution.

And it doesn't stop there. The damage is severe enough to stop rejuviation, not to mention the terrascape and visual blight.

Add this to Ken Salazar's green light to wolf hunting in the Rocky Mountains and his refusal to protect the polar bear, and we are solidly on the WRONG track.

I am very troubled.

Nathan Empsall said...

At least there's Henry Waxman.

Cany said...

Indeed, Nathan, Waxman (and Boxer) have always been two of my political environmental heros. My community is, in fact, working with Boxer's office at the moment on a local issue. I greatly admire her.

After she won her first Senatorial election, when she was running for office, I attended a public listening meeting years and years ago in Riverside (a very conservative area). Boxer ran on support for roadless/desert wilderness areas in CA, in part, and she was right to do so.

But there were probably 500 pissed off orange hats (those that like to run their motorcycles and vehicles over the VERY fragile desert pavement, For a definition of desert pavement, go here: of the some 700 or so people in this meeting.

Believe me, she could have catered her speech to this majority easily and backed out of her position. She didn't.

Her aid brought out the brown wooden box she stands on (she is tiny and carried it to events like this in those days... don't know if she still does... because without it, she could barely peer out from behind the podium), and she just kicked butt... nicely.

She said what she had said all along. I ran on it, I support it, I met with you, I'm willing to meet with you again, but I have heard NO arguments to date that would persuade me that my position is wrong.

Here was this little bit of a woman taking on an entire room of (mostly) big men and not a blink. She just kicked butt!

I am paraphrasing here and cutting to the chase, but I have to tell you, she was powerful in her delivery and conviction. She never did change her position, BTW.

I was standing on a chair in the back and got to ask her a question about a project I was working on in those days, the proposed Ward Valley radioactive waste dump which, as often happens, ended up being proposed in the best of the best habitat for an ESA species, the desert tortoise. By the way, it was not USFWS that came to the rescue on this, but the USGS. It was a REALLY interesting 5+ year fight.

Again, she championed that issue and with other politicians, including then Ca Gov. Gray Davis, stopped it, ultimately, though not before several legal cases and every possible attempt by the bad guys to sneak through midnight legislation and make the waste sound like cake.

This woman generally has a spine of steel. I have no idea what happened (other than the lies of the Bush admin) regarding Iraq and The Patriot Act and its subsequent revisions, etc.

On the environment, you can almost always count on these two, Boxer and Waxman. For that, I have been eternally grateful.

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